The solar panels are packed away. The exhibit floor is swept and spruced ready for the next big event. The networking is done and the cocktail parties of solar companies, installers, gadget makers are a hangover of the past. We’ve taken our solar powered trinkets and packed them in our eco-sensitive give away tote bags. Solar Power International is over until Las Vegas in 2014.
There are some lingering memories for me the not so technical blog writer married to a techy who acts as my adviser. He spent hours explaining crystalline silicon polycrystalline solar cell, etc. but what generated the most conversation between us and inspired this blog was the less than few exhibitors we talked to who knew this week of the biggest solar show on the planet coincided with 24 hours of reality about climate change. No one we talked to had seen the amazing documentary, “Chasing Ice”. Well at least Main Street Power, booth #2500 had a handle on the connection between solar, renewable energy and saving the planet and our way of life. Main Street Power had the good sense to feature two astoundingly bright and beautiful women who represent environmental protection in two very different ways.
Jane Saltzman is an expat from Chicago currently residing in Colorado but still a Chicagoan at heart. We interviewed her amid the din of thousands of conference goers and exhibitors. It was noisy but there was no way you could miss her vitality and passion about her work with James Balog, famous nature photographer and scientist. We asked her how she got involved with the making of “Chasing Ice”, the documentary about the shrinking polar ice. Saltzman explains that the movie wasn’t planned. Balog noticed changes in the ice and decided to document the changes with time lapse photography. Sounded simple but there were no cameras capable of taking time lapse photography and capable of operating at the extremely low temperatures of Antarctica. Solution? Develop the technology. What came next was serendipity. Newly graduated and raring for an adventure Jeff Orlowsky asked Balog if he could tag along to film the efforts. Result? An award winning film with a list of kudos that includes SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL – Excellence in Cinematography Award: US Documentary, The Environmental Media Association’s 22nd Annual BEST DOCUMENTARY AWARD, BEST DOCUMENTARY at the Berkshire Film Festival, Big Sky Film Festival, and Crested Butte Film Festival to name a few.
Balog puts it, “most of the time art and science stare at each other across a gulf of mutual incomprehension”. Clearly Jane Saltzman is a true believer in bridging the gulf. She signed on as the Executive Director of Earth Vision the not for profit dedicated to shedding light on climate change in partnership with Balog and crew. Earth Vision sets no small goals. A tiny team of eight individuals has goals that Burnham would admire. Ten years, a billion people, inspired to change and Jane Saltzman is in the mix working to pull all the artistic efforts associated with making visually stunning films like “Chasing Ice” into cutting edge educational programs including digital text books.We were pleased to learn that Earth Vision Trust has multiple plans to provide this technology to under resourced schools.
When we asked about the teams approach to climate deniers there was a noticeably mischievous glint in Jane’s eyes. She couldn’t go into detail but I’m willing to bet that Earth Vision Trust has some interesting tricks up their collective sleeves. Deniers beware!
Leilani Münter for those that didn’t follow the link and don’t know about Carbon Free Girl, Leilani has doubled for Catherine Zeta-Jones, holds a degree in biology, is an environmentalist and drives race cars! When we interviewed this power packed 5’3” vegan whose tag line is “never underestimate a vegetarian hippie chick with a race car” it was sheer energy and passion for the protection of Mother Earth. How you might say is a race car driver mindful of the environment? Here’s a surprising fact While most people associate their carbon footprint with their car, the United Nations found that more greenhouse gas emissions come from animal agriculture than from all the world's planes, trains, ships, cars and trucks combined. Leilani’s vegan diet certainly supports lowering methane emissions (think cow farts). She also donates land to offset her carbon footprint among other efforts to do her part. We asked her if she could name one incident that left such an impact on her that she had to act boldly. Without hesitation she told us about climbing into a boat to look at the results of the BP spill. I could sense her grief as she talked about heading out on the water, her dismay from the first sighting of the oil spill and her break down to tears at the sheer miles of blackened, oil slick water. She related a particularly poignant story about this boat ride. “I wanted to fall and cry,” she told us but the wife of a fisherman traveling with them slumped to her knees in racking sobs. Leilani became the caregiver. That was evidence of her soft side but like she says, don’t underestimate her. Her newest delight is her Tesla car and flipping the bird as she drives by gas stations.
Before we left the Main Street Power booth Leilani motioned to us to take a look at her laptop. She was reviewing a video supporting Honk for Saudi Women. Glad to spread the word.
Last but not least here’s a nod to the awesome women’s solar installation team for Raq that beat the pants off the male installation team from Missouri in the rapid installation challenge at the Solar Power 2013!